You actually have class.
It didn’t really dawn on me until I woke up at 7:30 a.m. Monday morning that my adventure in Granada would actually consist of going to class and learning stuff. I think everyone at least somewhat imagines study abroad as a four month break from school in an exotic location of your choice–I certainly did. But don’t cancel your plans yet, it’s not that bad. My schedule consists of five classes, all taught in Spanish, at IES: Spanish, Islamic Civilization in Spain Since 1492, Islamic Art and Architecture, Cross-Cultural Psychology, and History of Spanish Cinema. The classes are all great so far but for me the most important aspect is just improving my Spanish, and having 5 hours of class in Spanish each day is certainly making me a better listener and speaker.
Dinner is always an adventure.
Granada is famous for its tapas, little appetizers you get for free when you order a drink. Going out for tapas is the most popular way of getting your late night meal here (usually around 9 p.m.), and if I have to see one more message in our 80-person IES group chat asking “Anyone wanna go out for tapas?” I swear I will make fun of them on my blog. But really, it’s great. I’m gonna get some as soon as I’m done writing this post. But the best food in Granada has got to be the Middle-Eastern food. Spain is separated from Morocco by 9 miles of ocean, so the Arab population in Granada is huge. And when the ham and bread don’t cut it, I’m always happy to spend three euros on any of the hundred shawarma places near me.
Only two types of dogs exist in Spain.
In all my walking the past couple weeks I have kept a watchful eye out for the local dogs, and friends, let me tell you, there are only two. You will either encounter tiny dogs with sweaters, or big dogs with Gucci collars. 100% serious, no cap, honest to God these are the only dogs in this country and I challenge anyone reading this to prove me wrong.
Spanish college students have the endurance and energy of a Navy Seal.
I’ll just say it: two-and-a-half years at Whitman have killed my appetite for nightlife. I’ve gotten so used to the school shutting down at midnight that I just accepted an early bedtime on the weekends. But the Spanish youth are a different breed. From everyone at my residence I’ve talked to, it’s not uncommon to wait until 2 a.m. to start their evening and go until the sun comes out, after which they’ll either sleep during the day or go to class on no sleep. I understand now why all the interest house language assistants are dismayed by Whitman’s relative tranquility compared to the continent that never sleeps.
American culture is ever-present.
I read a travel blog post a few years ago that said if you travel to Europe you should avoid wearing white sneakers because no one in Europe wears those and that is a dead giveaway that you’re an American. Well, readers, imagine my surprise when I stepped off the bus in Granada and half the people I see are wearing white shoes. I don’t think the author of that blog was lying at the time, but since they wrote that fashion and cultural trends in America have undoubtedly further spread through Spain, blurring the line between the two cultures. Younger generations especially like to flaunt their American-ness with their Wu-Tang shirts, Air Force Ones, and Supreme hoodies. In trying to hide my American-ness, I might really be exposing it.